Healdsburg boys bow out

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

KENTFIELD — When Healdsburg’s Peter Nelsen banked in a shot from half court to knot the score at the end of the first quarter, the near-capacity crowd here Wednesday night thought it was in store for a barn burner.

Instead, it was a blowout as host Marin Catholic took advantage of numerous Greyhounds’ turnovers in the final three quarters while posting a 70-55 victory in an opening-round North Coast Section Division 4 boys basketball game.

When the final stats were added, Healdsburg had committed 24 turnovers, 14 of those coming on steals.

“No question turnovers were a big factor,” Greyhounds coach Travis Taylor said. “Their defense and the way they switched up their press caused us a lot of problems.

“We had them scouted and knew what they were going to do. We just couldn’t stop it from happening.”

Another Nelsen trey tied the score at 17, but 5:05 before halftime the Wildcats took the lead for good on a 3-pointer by Patrick Conroy.

Marin’s suffocating defense forced six additional turnovers that turned into baskets and a 37-28 halftime lead.

The third quarter was more of the same as Healdsburg was outscored, 22-6, a majority of the Wildcats’ points coming after steals.

“Because of the defense, we had a great shooting night,” said Conroy, Marin’s leading scorer with 19. “I think we were able to confuse them by changing looks so often.”

Winning coach Mike Saia continually subbed in fresh players and kept the pressure on.

“I think we might’ve fatigued them,” Saia said. “We have a deep rotation.

“When we got the ball on a steal, we transitioned well and got a lot of layups.”

In his final high school game, Nelsen led the Healdsburg attack with 18, all but four of those coming in the first half.

“We played hard all year, but like this game, mental lapses killed us,” the 6-foot-4 forward said. “We lost a lot of games this year where mistakes made the difference.”

Nelsen plans to play next year at Santa Barbara City College.

Kevin MacLachlan, another senior, had 12 points.

Healdsburg, who made the tournament as the No. 11 seed, finished with a 9-14 record.

“I told the kids this season has been a great experience for me,” Taylor said. “We didn’t win as many games as we could’ve, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Everybody gave 100 percent.”

No. 6 seed Marin Catholic is 19-10 and will be in Santa Rosa on Saturday night to play Cardinal Newman.